Destination guide

Empire is a charming lakeshore town

Nestled on the eastern shore of mighty Lake Michigan, the enchanting small town of Empire is the gateway to the jaw-dropping Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Visitors from far and wide flock to this blissfully unspoiled national park to stroll along its soft, sandy beaches, clamber up its undulating sand dunes, and take in panoramic vistas. Empire's charmingly compact downtown area is a pleasure to wander around, with treasure-filled antiques and gift shops to explore, and an array of friendly, family-run eateries to try out. Empire vacation rentals range from cozy cottages to luxurious family houses, so you're sure to find something to suit all your requirements.

Things to do

Empire's perfectly-preserved history

You'll find a host of attractions near your Empire vacation rental. If you're looking to get a handle on local history, or simply need a break from the sun, the Empire Area Museum is a must. This charming complex offers a colorful trip back in time, with meticulous recreations of a 1-room schoolhouse and a Victorian saloon, and some beautifully restored antique vehicles. A short drive or bracing morning hike away lies the tranquil historic port village of Glen Haven. Soak up the retro vibe of the beguiling General Store, and treat yourself to one of their famous, freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Then learn all about the region's nautical history at the engrossing Cannery Boathouse Museum.

Activities

Sand dune climbing and deep-sea diving in Empire

The Sleeping Bear Dunes are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all persuasions. Top of the agenda for many is an energizing scramble up the mighty, wind-blown dunes themselves. At the top you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the verdant, forested shores of Glen Lake. Run or roll back down to the bottom, and you can enjoy a family picnic whilst marveling at the region's breathtaking rugged beauty. In the warm summer months, the sandy shores and crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, and fishing. And within easy reach lies the mesmerizing Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, a hotspot for shipwreck diving.

Weather

Enjoy all the seasons in Empire

The summer months form Empire's peak visitor season. Days are long, sunny, warm, and generally dry. Naturally, Empire vacation rentals are in high demand during this period, so it's a good idea to book well in advance. Spring and fall are also great times to visit. Fresher temperatures make strenuous hikes and bike rides more enjoyable, whilst the changing foliage ensures an abundance of natural spectacle. You'll need to wrap up warm if you're visiting in winter, but plenty of snowfall transforms the region into a hotspot for cross-country skiing.

Natural features

Animal encounters near Empire

Empire sits amidst a diverse ecosystem which will captivate nature lovers. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore is home to an abundance of animals, such as white-tailed deer, spritely red foxes, and adorable otters. Birdwatchers are also in for a treat. Keep an ear out for songbirds like warblers and thrushes, and your eyes peeled for majestic bald eagles, hawks, and great horned owls.

How to get there

Traveling to and around Empire

The nearest airport is in Traverse City, MI (TVC-Cherry Capital), located 22.2 mi (35.8 km) from the city center.

Can I find a vacation rental around Empire?

Yes, our 2019 property listings offer a large selection of 550 vacation rentals near Empire. From 238 Houses to 170 Cottages, find a unique house rental for you to enjoy a memorable stay with your family and friends. The best places to stay near Empire for a holiday or a weekend are on HomeAway.

What are the popular points of interest near where I can stay when traveling to Empire?

HomeAway offers a large selection of vacation rentals near lovely places in Empire. From HomeAway travelers, the most popular points of interest to stay for a holiday trip or just for a weekend are:

  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: 915 vacation rentals
  • Empire Bluff Trail: 852 vacation rentals
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes: 1,467 vacation rentals
  • Clinch Park Beach: 1,262 vacation rentals
  • Frankfort Beach: 444 vacation rentals

But there are many other points of interest around Empire listed on HomeAway where you can find your place to stay. Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available near the point of interest of your choice.

Can I rent Houses in Empire?

Yes, of course. HomeAway has 238 Houses in Empire. Our other popular types of vacation rentals in Empire include:

  • Cottages: 170 rentals available
  • Cabins: 170 rentals available
  • Bungalows: 170 rentals available

But you can also enjoy a great stay in one of our other vacation rentals including Condos/Apartments and more.

Can I find a vacation rental with pool in Empire?

Yes, you can select your preferred vacation rental with pool among our 14 vacation rentals with pool available in Empire. Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available.

    Explore destinations around Empire

    Traverse City
    1,378 vacation rentals
    Glen Arbor
    379 vacation rentals
    Frankfort
    377 vacation rentals
    Suttons Bay
    627 vacation rentals
    Lake Leelanau
    1,030 vacation rentals
    Leland
    377 vacation rentals
    Northport
    457 vacation rentals
    Beulah
    338 vacation rentals
    Interlochen
    607 vacation rentals
    Thompsonville
    211 vacation rentals
    Bear Lake
    274 vacation rentals
    Honor
    663 vacation rentals
    Arcadia
    417 vacation rentals
    Lake Ann
    1,815 vacation rentals
    Maple City
    1,131 vacation rentals
    Cedar
    1,143 vacation rentals
    Mesick
    810 vacation rentals
    Elberta
    167 vacation rentals
    Kingsley
    591 vacation rentals
    Grawn
    571 vacation rentals